Summer in the South means heat and long stretches of daylight to enjoy with your family. And with the recent renovations that Atlanta and its surrounding areas have made to their classic parks, there are plenty of places to enjoy all that sunshine. So gather your sunblock, towels, and perhaps a little cooler filled with lunch. You'll have guaranteed giggles and make summer memories to enjoy.
Piedmont Park Conservancy has been in existence since 1904 and has been an important part of the green space in the heart of the city. A recent effort to rehabilitate 53 acres of unused space has resulted in an expansion, which includes the Promenade at Piedmont Park featuring Legacy Fountain. The fountain is a large splashpad-style fountain with a surrounding semi-circle arbor with tables and chairs for parents to enjoy. There are new bathhouse facilities available for changing and a snack stand for convenience. (Cost is free; fountain is operated from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.) There is a new parking garage that drops you right down on the path towards the Legacy Fountain. Follow the signage to the left for the Legacy Fountain. If you desire to enjoy a more intense swimming experience, the beautifully renovated Aquatics Center features a beach-styled entry with current channel motion for floating fun. (Minimal cost; free swim hours are Monday-Friday, 3:00-5:00 p.m.)
Centennial Olympic Park
Built for the 1996 Olympic Games, Fountain of Rings has become a popular place for both visitors and locals to gather and enjoy the city. The fountains have carefully timed routines (free to view) with different themes that play four times a day, 365 days a year, at 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Many events are held at Centennial Park like the Music at Noon (Tuesdays and Thursdays, April through September) and the Family Fun Days on the fourth Saturday of each month. New additions to the neighborhood include the Georgia Aquarium and The World of Coke with Centennial Olympic Park being the pedestrian connection between those and other popular areas of Atlanta. Should your group become hungry, good restaurants can be found in the Luckie Street District, near the Aquarium, or in CNN Center that contains a food court and other restaurants.
North of the city, the City of Roswell has opened up two water play options: Splash 'n Play at Riverside Park and The Spray Station at East Roswell Park. Both are open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and have become a popular playdate and meeting spot for families in the surrounding areas. Admission is only $1 per person (infants and those not entering the water are free), and facilities are well maintained. Please note that on Tuesdays the Riverside Park location closes for maintenance and private rentals. The East Roswell Park closes on Wednesday as their maintenance day. J. Christopher's on Atlanta Street and The Fickle Pickle on Canton Street are two good choices for kid-friendly brunch or lunch.
Sope Creek Park
For a change of pace, take a light hike (one mile) on the Sope Creek Park trail to explore the Civil War era ruins of a paper mill and wade into Sope Creek for a truly natural water experience. This hidden jewel is located off of Paper Mill Road on the Cobb County side of the Chattahoochee River and is operated by the National Park Service as part of the Chattahoochee National Recreational Area. A $3 parking fee is required unless you own a Chattahoochee NRA Pass. (Water shoes are recommended to protect your feet in the natural surroundings of this river tributary.) The Park Service offers a Junior Ranger program for children who would like to learn more as they explore the parks.
Gwinnett County Finds
Gwinnett County Government has developed multiple aquatic facilities for residents to enjoy -- two indoor and five outdoor locations -- with features like water slides, zero entry pools, river channels, and water play areas. Mountain Park and Bethesda Park are two of the most popular locations. The Mall of Georgia is not too far away with a large selection of food and shopping to complete your day. The mall also has a splash pad area which is free to the public.
Suwannee's Big Splash Interactive Fountain
Located in Town Center Park, Big Splash is the largest interactive fountain (43 jets!) in Gwinnett County. This popular water play area is open from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., seven days a week and weather permitting, from April 1st until October 31st. The park also includes a beautiful greenway area, which can be used for biking and general recreation for families.
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